Tag Archives: pray

The Warrior Amongst Worriers

Some of you might remember that I happen to attend a Chinese church, made up primarily of Chinese and Taiwanese immigrants as well as some Chinese Americans, although I am not at all Chinese or Chinese American. Yesterday my pastor and his wife were kind enough to meet with me after church to talk about my spiritual wellbeing. I have been struggling a lot with worry and feeling unworthy. As we closed, my pastor said, “Chelsea, I see you as a worrier.”

To that I exclaimed, “Yes! I believe it’s an ancestral curse.” I went on to name all the people in my family that are worriers too. My pastor’s wife looked at me confused, “Well, a warrior…”

“Wait! What?!? Warrior?” I asked.

The whole time my pastor, in his Chinese accent, had been saying “warrior” while I had been saying “worrier.” Needless to say we had a good, hard laugh.

Let’s face it, we all struggle with worry, even if we are warriors deep down. A warrior is not just someone who is involved in war. It is someone who is engaged, active, energetic, and persevering. If you are only a worrier without being a warrior, you will likely become tired, unfocused, and discourage. Perhaps eventually you will give up and give in.

In looking at the qualifications to be in the U.S. military, you must of certain height and weight, be able to pass a physical test, you must be young, you must be a citizen, etc. If we translate this into what qualifies you to be spiritual warrior, we could say the qualifications are spiritual fitness, a youthful/energetic attitude, and you must be a child of God.

Today I’m going to address spiritual fitness. Work off the “flab” of worry to become a persevering spiritual warrior.

STEP 1. Drop the weight. Just as you cannot enter the U.S. military if you are obese and out of shape, you cannot run the good race carrying around the things that hold you back from growing in God. These may not be particularly sinful things, but just unneeded distractions from His plan. Perhaps you are like me. I sometimes get sucked into the black hole of the Internet, and end up surfing for hours. Or perhaps you need to trust God with the things that worry you, and lay them at His feet. As my friend says, “Let go and let God.”

STEP 2.  Look to those who have already completed the race well. The old adage “if they can do it, I can do it” says it all. We all came from a life of sin. Some will overcome, and some will not. Let us be inspired by those who have overcome and be motivated by their success.

3. Fix your eyes on Jesus. I hate running and exercising so much that sometimes I will picture some kind of reward at the end, like a big hamburger…I’m probably not going to be joining the U.S. military anytime soon. If we fix our eyes on our end destination, then we can overcome many obstacles. He is not only our destination, but our companion, encourager, and example for the race. Imagine running alongside a perfect runner who encourages you, and even though they have the physical ability to run much faster, they choose to run at your pace in order to keep you company and push you toward victory.

One way you can exercise these three points is to pray, study, and fellowship with other believers as well as God. Prayer is like fixing your eyes on Jesus. When you have meaningful conversation with someone, do you look the other way? No, you fix your eyes on their eyes. You feel what they feel. Bible study will help you recall those who have finished the race well. In difficult times you can reflect on Daniel in the lion’s den, Joseph sold into slavery, David facing the towering Goliath, and so many more. And when you fellowship with trusted believers you will take time, resources, and mind-space away from whatever extra weight you are carrying.

I hope that today you will have the courage to step out in faith, even if it means just opening your Bible. Every time we do that we can expect to meet opposition from the enemy, so be prepared to use your newfound warrior skills to fight back in the spiritual warfare we face daily.

The 3 main bullet points were adapted from a sermon by Dr. Paul Nyquist of Moody Bible Institute given at BASS Convention on 3/7/2015. 

 

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Overcome the World

In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. -John 16:33B

When met with adversity we meet Him. This may sound like I am suggesting to look on the bright side. While I think looking on the bright side can be good to gain a different perspective, Jesus had emotions just like you and I. He felt broken, torn, hurt, offended. It’s not unchristian to feel. We are made to feel emotion. It’s what sets us apart. What I mean is that when we are met with adversity it is an opportunity to give Jesus the driver’s seat. I’m trying not to quote Carrie Underwood’s “Jesus Take the Wheel”, but that’s exactly what we should do in trials and suffering. Who knows us and our situation better than the one who knit us in our mother’s womb.

In Genesis 39 Joseph has just been sold to the Ishmaelites by his jealous brothers. They had planned to kill him, but decided they’d make some cash by selling him. The Ishmaelites sold him into slavery to Potiphar, an Egyptian officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard. Joseph must have been feeling hurt and betrayed by his brothers, fear of what would come next, sad that he had been forced to leave his father behind. This was truly a time of adversity for him, but the Bible says , “The Lord was with Joseph, and he became a successful man…” Did I read that right?!? Joseph who was almost murdered by his jealous brothers, sold into slavery, and now he has become successful? But this is not where the struggle ends. Just as in our own lives, because we fight through one storm does not mean there isn’t another on the horizon.

Joseph had become quite successful working under Potiphar until his wife tried to seduce him. When he realized her proposition he quickly fled, but she snatched his cloak from his back. Seeing this as evidence and an opportunity for revenge on Joseph she went to her husband to accuse his servant of assault, “See, here is his cloak he left behind.” Believing his wife’s accusation Potiphar quickly had Joseph detained. Once again, betrayed and let down, Joseph finds God’s favor. His good behavior and God’s spirit upon him earn him the position of watching over all the other prisoners, an assistant to the chief jailer. Over two years later through a series of unlikely events Joseph is asked to interpret Pharaoh’s dream. The dream’s interpretation indicated a famine was coming. Impressed with Joseph’s discernment Pharaoh promotes Joseph from prisoner to his personal assistant and head of all his servants and business of his house.

Later Joseph gained even more respect from Pharaoh and God continued to show him favor, even reconciling his relationship with his family and at last reuniting them. No mountain is too big or too small for God to overcome. The number of scriptures on overcoming adversity is overwhelming. If you don’t believe me reflect on your past. Think of all the times you have overcome. Did you really overcome with your own strength or was there something, someone supernatural carrying you through it.

If you are feeling stuck in struggle, suffering, sorrow take a moment to meditate on this, my favorite Psalm:

Psalm 91 (NRSV)

You who live in the shelter of the Most High, who abide in the shadow of the Almighty, will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress; my God, in whom I trust.” For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence; he will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. You will not fear the terror of the night, or the arrow that flies by day, or the pestilence that stalks in darkness, or the destruction that wastes at noonday.A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. You will only look with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked. Because you have made the Lord your refuge, the Most High your dwelling place, no evil shall befall you, no scourge come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone. You will tread on the lion and the adder, the young lion and the serpent you will trample under foot. Those who love me, I will deliver; I will protect those who know my name. When  they call to me, I will answer them; I will be with them in trouble, I will rescue them and honor them. With long life I will satisfy them, and show them my salvation.

Resolve to Resolve

This past Sunday my church continued it’s tradition of having a giving thanks service on the last Sunday of the year. Pastor Joseph sent out an email a day or two before prompting us to come prepared with what we wanted to share with the congregation. As I reflected I realized the thing I am most thankful for in 2013 is the breakthrough I had forgiving my dad. From the outside it might have appeared that my dad and I had a great relationship. My dad always hugs me, we go father-daughter dates, we tell inside jokes, but inside I held on to the times my dad hurt me. To be close to my dad meant the risk of reopening past wounds. In Spring 2013 I was home for a visit with my parents. What started out as a lovely day of kayaking ended in the reopening of my festering wound. Even though my dad had been calm and collected most of the day one little bout of frustration brought back thoughts of unforgiven arguments.

I’ve heard people say, and probably uttered the very words myself, “Why should I forgive someone who doesn’t deserve it?” The very definition of forgiveness implies that the pardon is undeserved. Through the gentle guidance and counsel of my pastor’s wife Marlin I was able to recognize that much of my physical and emotional pain stemmed from the grudges I held against my dad. Not only was I holding him in bondage but myself. To break the chains of unforgiveness would grant us both freedom, but I could not gain freedom without also granting him freedom. It is like a prison guard shackled to a prisoner. In order for him to be free he must also set the prisoner free. What a predicament!

In my pain and struggle to forgive, in my moment of desperation on that spring day, I went in my parents’ guest room, opened my Bible, and prayed. I don’t remember exactly what I prayed, but when I came out I slowly ate my dinner in silence and let the Holy Spirit stir within me. Afterward I knocked on my dad’s bedroom door, “Can I come in?” I sat next to him on the bed and tried pouring out my heart in my own heartfelt words, but it didn’t seem to sink in to him how hard this conversation was for me. Finally I looked him in the eyes, I had no words to speak and yet my lips spoke, “Dad, you know the Bible front to back. You know the men of the Bible are remembered not for being perfect, but for being changed. I don’t want you to be remembered as a man who wouldn’t change.” I’ve never seen a tear come to my dad’s eye before that day except maybe one other occasion, but I like to think I saw a tear that evening. After our conversation I had to leave to make the trek back to the Bay Area. It hurt to leave it like that, but as I drove home I heard the song “Changed” by Rascal Flatts. I knew God had already begun His work in my dad’s heart, but just as importantly He had begun His work in my heart. Not only has my dad been changed, but we have both been set free.

Due to privacy I didn’t want to reveal what exactly I forgave my dad for, but I do want to clarify it was typical father-daughter stuff, nothing major. However I do want to stress that God wants us to forgive even the harshest of hurts.

My Aunt Wanda told me to watch the video clip below. She was very moved and inspired by this man’s ability to forgive. I hope you are too.

Is there someone deserving or, more importantly, undeserving who you need to forgive? Take a moment to ask the Holy Spirit to help you start. It’s the best New Year’s resolution. I guarantee it.